Signature Statement: Saying I’m Sorry the Write Way

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to reinforce the bonds of a relationship. Reading time: 3:42

         “I’ll be there to give you moral support,” my new boss told me as I prepared for a presentation at a large sales meeting.

i-am-sorry-640x531         It really didn’t matter that my boss never showed. After all, he clearly had confidence me. Besides, the presentation went well as expected.

         As soon as I got back to the office, my boss stopped me before I had a chance to sit down.

         No “how-did-it-go” inquiry.  No excuses for not attending my presentation. No hiding behind the proverbial “emergency that I had to handle.” He just simply confessed:

         “I screwed up. I just forgot all about it. I am sorry.  So sorry.  That’s for you.”

           My boss pointed to an envelope on my desk.

          The envelope had my name written in perfect penmanship. Inside there was a blank motivational card that said “CHALLENGE” on the front.

         I opened the card and read his carefully handwritten apology. I knew my new boss as a highly successful leader who brandished his reputation as a street-smart, don’t-mess-with-me guy.

            That’s why I felt goosebumps sprinkle all over my back as I read his words — “I’m sorry.  I screwed up….” Each letter he wrote in his best penmanship seemed so thoughtfully scripted. His expensive fountain pen seemed to ooze drops like so many virtual tears.

      (Oh, I know that sounds so over the top,  but in my world — a dashed note from a boss in lousy penmanship is the rule not the exception. This was no quickly dashed note.) Anyway, after reading his apology,  I needed  to swallow before getting back to work.           My boss’s apology–vocally and verbally –really touched me and rekindled my commitment to him personally and our company collectively.

        challenge-poster-lFrom the day of that apology going  forward, I seemed to bring my “A” game to the office much more often.  I was more productive. Maybe I was just working longer rather than smarter. Not sure.

       But I figured if my new boss cared that much about me, I should care even more about him. I should care even more about making him look good in hiring me in the first place.


                   My new boss-turned-pen-pal taught me a significant leadership lesson that day. It’s a lesson that has served me well in developing teams and building trust over the years:

                    Value the dignity and worth of  your staff.  Be true to your word,  especially if you are vowing support — materially or  spiritually.

                  writing-a-letter And if that bond of trust is broken–be quick; be verbal, be vocal— apologizing personally. In your own voice. In your own handwriting.

                  From your own heart and soul.

                  It’s one thing to perfunctorily mouth the words–“I’m sorry” –-and call it good.

                  It’s another thing to:  Sit down; Swallow your pride and your positional authority; Search for a Hallmark Helper ( inspirational cards) ; Write out your apology and Personally deliver it.

                   That Pen-Pal approach takes more time, more effort, more sincerity and more planning.

                   No click does the trick. No hiding behind  E-mail. No hitting “SEND”  to put a quick end to a misunderstanding.

                    Later,  I found out that my new boss stocked inspirational blank greeting cards in his office the way others stock business cards.

                    And the leadership lesson I learned. Play your cards. Personally.

                    Especially when you’re saying “I’m sorry.”

                    Today’s ImproveMINT:

Become a Pen Pal to keep your leadership skills in mint condition.

SUBSCRIBE: Have a Leadership Mint delivered to your E-mail every business day. It’s free. Just click the SIGN ME UP box in the upper left column.

5 thoughts on “Signature Statement: Saying I’m Sorry the Write Way

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